The matters the PC has sought be addressed in relation to Competition Policy substantially overlap with matters canvassed as part of the Harper Review. Despite the criticism that we level at the Draft Report of the Harper Review, even those authors concurred that “as a general principle” labour markets “are not in all respects comparable to product or services markets”27.
The recognition of that fact is reflected in the protective purpose of labour laws which, as described in our introductory chapter, has centred upon providing minimum standards and collective organising rights in an effort to make labour markets less inequitable and to recognise the fact that labour is not a commodity.
Those that suggest that worker collectivism needs to be limited in the manner prescribed by the Competition and Consumer Act (or further) fail to appreciate that capital itself is in inherently collective in nature. This misapprehension (or world view) may also be at least partly responsible for the failure of our industrial laws to provide an adequate framework for multiple employer bargaining and its related failure to permit bargaining outcomes with the locus of economic control to flow through to reliant parties in the labour supply chain.
In our view, neither the Secondary Boycott provisions28 or Trading Restriction provisions29 of the Competition and Consumer Act should be retained.